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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 205400
Last updated: 15 September 2021
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Date:30-JAN-2018
Time:13:50
Type:Silhouette image of generic R44 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Robinson R44
Owner/operator:Private
Registration: N7530R
MSN: 1295
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Category:Accident
Location:Orange County, Newport Beach, CA -   United States of America
Phase: Initial climb
Nature:Private
Departure airport:Santa Ana, CA (SNA)
Destination airport:Catalina Island, CA
Investigating agency: NTSB
Narrative:
The private pilot of the helicopter departed with three passengers on a cross-country flight in day visual meteorological conditions. Surveillance video of the takeoff showed that the helicopter assumed a nose-low attitude upon lifting off the ground and mostly maintained that attitude throughout the takeoff and initial climb. Radar data indicated that the helicopter reached a maximum altitude of 500 ft mean sea level before it entered a rapid descent and impacted homes and the ground less than 1 mile from the departure airport. The surviving passenger described the descent as "straight down."

An examination of the airframe, engine, and related systems revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. Weight and balance calculations revealed that the helicopter was operating 76 lbs over its published maximum gross weight and near the published forward center of gravity (CG) limits. The helicopter's observed nose-low attitude throughout the flight is consistent with a forward CG, which would have required additional aft cyclic control inputs to maintain level flight and may have resulted in reduced cyclic control travel. The passenger stated that the pilot did not ask any of the passengers for their weights, nor did he instruct them where to sit, suggesting that the pilot did not perform weight and balance calculations before the flight. Given the lack of mechanical anomalies, it is likely that the pilot experienced a loss of helicopter control due to his decision to operate the helicopter outside of its published weight and balance limitations.

Probable Cause: The pilot's failure to perform weight and balance calculations before departing on the flight, which resulted in his operation of the helicopter outside of its published weight and balance limitations and a subsequent loss of control shortly after takeoff.

Sources:

http://aerossurance.com/helicopters/r44-weight-and-balance/
NTSB
FAA register: http://registry.faa.gov/aircraftinquiry/NNum_Results.aspx?NNumbertxt=7530R

Accident investigation:
cover
  
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 2 years and 2 months
Download report: Final report
Location

Media:


Images:


Looking NW towards the helicopter site 18 hours after impact. The helicopter roof was cut away by EMT personnel shortly after the accident. The survivor was seated in the front-left seat, and the rear right seat/headrest is visible in the image.

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
31-Jan-2018 01:36 Geno Added
31-Jan-2018 07:58 Iceman 29 Updated [Source, Embed code, Narrative]
31-Jan-2018 08:12 Iceman 29 Updated [Time, Operator]
01-Feb-2018 04:13 Geno Updated [Total fatalities, Other fatalities, Destination airport, Damage, Narrative]
07-Feb-2018 10:11 Anon. Updated [Photo, ]
18-Apr-2020 18:03 Aerossurance Updated [Operator, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
19-Apr-2020 07:05 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative, Accident report, ]
25-Apr-2020 10:27 Aerossurance Updated [Source, Embed code, Narrative]
25-Apr-2020 15:30 Aerossurance Updated [Aircraft type, Embed code]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description